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Married Life

All You Need to Know About Gift-Giving

In one of our many, many differences, Den doesn’t come from a big gift giving family while I come from The Biggest gift giving family you’ve ever seen.

In fact, when Den and I met he was quick to tell me that he doesn’t “do” presents. For the first birthday I had when we were friends/sleeping together/very much in a grey area, he bought me a tequila shot at the bar. Happy Birthday, Emma.

Of course, I was quick to retrain him. Or at least, I’m in the process of it. He still doesn’t like the pressure of present-buying. Which is half the reason we invented The Melt List (still in Beta, but go have a play!)

All You Need to Know About Gift Giving

The ritual of gift giving is more complex than you may think. This is from a fascinating article in the New York Times:

“They have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Indeed, psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift.

People who refuse to accept or exchange gifts during the holidays, these experts say, may be missing out on an important connection with family and friends.

“That doesn’t do a service to the relationship,” said Ellen J. Langer, a Harvard psychology professor. “If I don’t let you give me a gift, then I’m not encouraging you to think about me and think about things I like. I am preventing you from experiencing the joy of engaging in all those activities. You do people a disservice by not giving them the gift of giving.”

As far as the $30 Date Night Gift Giving Philosophy Goes, here are our best tips for gift giving.

It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Don’t think you need to spend a lot of money on a gift for a loved one. As long as you pick it well, with thought and meaning, it will go down a treat.

Before Denis and I were an official couple (again in that grey area), he had a birthday. I got him a money clip – it’s simple, it didn’t cost a lot. I knew he would love it because it was practical and because he likes money.

But it shouldn’t be lame

Now there’s inexpensive but thoughtful and then there’s just plain crap.

My last boyfriend gave me a box of giftwrap for my 21st birthday because “You love to wrap presents!”. That’s just plain crap. Then there’s our friend who got his girlfriend jumper leads for her car. It was thoughtful – she kept breaking down – but really, that’s not appropriate for a birthday present. He would’ve been better giving them to her as a “for no reason” present.

Put some thought into it

If a birthday comes up before you know “where you’re at” with your relationship then the best bet is to take them out for a lovely night rather than the stress of getting them a “present” that they have to keep. Give them a special night on the town – tickets to an outdoor cinema with a gourmet picnic, perhaps. Or dinner at a tres fancy restaurant.

If you’ve been together for years, have a think about the things they like, love and want… then act accordingly. My friend Nerrie is the best gift giver ever – once, she called a resort I was staying at on holiday and upgraded my room and booked us in on a champagne sunset cruise as a present. She took something already great that I had going on and made it better! Every gift she gives is for a reason, and it shows that she listens when I talk, that she knows me well and that she cares.

If you’re still stuck and it’s an anniversary you’re buying for, get onto our Anniversary Gift Guide for Traditional Gift Ideas. Having guidelines about what sort of gift to buy for anniversaries lends some creativity and takes the pressure off getting something extravagant every time.

If you’re still at a loss for what to get your sweetie in general, then go sign up to our new site, The Melt List. It’s free (for now!).

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The worst?

Which gift are you most proud of giving?

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Author |

Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.


4 comments for “All You Need to Know About Gift-Giving”

  1. Posted by Jess | September 8, 2010, 10:58 am

    One of the best gifts I ever got was the first birthday my boy and I were together. We too had just started seeing each other, and I wasn’t expecting too much. But I got a cross fountain pen, a beautiful Italian un-trimmed journal and some Kikki K stationary.

    I’m a stationary nut, so he’d really paid attention early on, that was the best part. :o )

  2. Posted by Emma | September 8, 2010, 11:05 am

    That’s a gorgeous present Jess! Just perfect for the grey area – sweet and thoughtful without being overwhelming… (I hate it when someone buys a really extravagant present when you’ve just started seeing each other. Awkward much?)… he sounds like a keeper!

  3. Posted by Jess | September 8, 2010, 1:38 pm

    We’ve been together a couple of years now and we try to put a lot of thought into gifts, but because we’ve gone to so much effort on the last few birthdays and Christmases it seems like there isn’t anything left. So I’m loving your Melt List to capture a few new ideas!

  4. Posted by Emma | September 9, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Oh good! Let us know how you go with Melt List, I’d love to hear it (It’s very rough right now but bear with us we’re getting to it ASAP!)

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